Pacification operations in German-occupied Poland

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The pacification operations in German-occupied Poland was the use of military force and punitive measures conducted during World War II by Nazi Germany with the goal of suppressing any Polish resistance.

"Pacification" operations are one example of the extermination policies used against Poland and were of a massive scale, resulting in the murders of approximately 20,000 villagers. They were mainly conducted in the areas of General Government, Pomorze, and in the vicinities of Białystok and Greater Poland. The number of villages which were an object of pacification in Poland is approximately 825. Collective punishment was used during such operations to discourage offering shelter to Jews or Soviet POWs, and providing aid to any guerilla forces. Pacifications included the extermination of entire villages including women and children, expulsions, the burning of homes, confiscation of private property, and arrests. In many instances these operations were characterized by extreme brutality. An example of such behaviour is the burning alive of 81 civilians and the shooting of 15 others in the village of Jabłoń-Dobki.

Polish teachers from Bydgoszcz guarded by members of Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz before execution

The first pacifications were conducted on the ground by Wehrmacht officers and soldiers, and took place in Złoczew on September 3 and 4, 1939, in which the German soldiers murdered some 200 Poles.

The Polish Institute of National Remembrance has documented the use of military force with the goal of suppressing Polish resistance. One example was a reprisal action by units of the XIX Panzer Corps taken for the operations of the Suwalska Cavalry Brigade. During the evening of 13 September 1939 thirteen people from Olszewo and ten people from the nearby village of Pietkowo were killed. The victims among the villagers include women and children who were murdered in several ways, such as stabbing by bayonets, shooting, being blown apart by grenades, and being burned alive in a barn.[1]

According to article by Witold Kulesza published in "Komentarze Historyczne" by the Institute of National Remembrance, German Regiment SS-Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler" of the 17th Division arrived in Złoczew on September 3, 1939 on motorcycles and on bicycles. The burning of the village and mass killings began the same night. According to eye-witness Janina Modrzewska, who survived the pacification of Złoczew, the soldiers were killing everyone they saw. Total casualties amounted to 200 dead victims.[2] From the air, Luftwaffe planes bombed the villages of Momoty Dolne, Momoty Górne, Pawłów, Tokary, Sochy and Klew. Some places were subjected to multiple pacification operations. In the town of Aleksandrów in Biłgoraj County between 1939 and 1944, German authorities murdered 290 civilians (444 according to WIEM), wounded 43, deported 434 to forced labour camps, and burned at least 113 households.

At least 750 villages had at least 10 inhabitants murdered, and at least 75 villages were destroyed completely[3] (see: table for partial list of names of villages and the number of dead victims).

Modern international law considers these kinds of actions against civilians to be genocide, whether conducted within national boundaries or in occupied territories.[4]

Villages and dead victims[edit]

Village name Killed Village name Killed Village name Killed
Borów 232 (103 children) Cyców 111 Jamy 147
Kaszyce 117 Kitów 174 Krasowo-Częstki 257 (83 children)
Krusze 148 Kulno 100 Lipniak-Majorat over 370
Łążek 187 Michniów 203 (48 children)[5] Milejów 150
Mrozy over 100 Olszanka 103 Rajsk over 143
Różaniec circa 200 Skłoby 265 Smoligów circa 200
Sochy 183 Sumin 118 Szczecyn 368 (71 children)
Wanaty 109 Zamość 470 Szczebrzeszyn 208
Łabunie 210 Krasnogród 285 Mokre 304
Nielisz 301 Nowa Osada 195 Radecznica 212
Skierbieszów 335 Stary Zamość 287 Suchowola 324
Sułów 252 Tereszpol 344 Wysokie 203
Zwierzyniec 412 Kitowa 165 Królewiec / Szałas over 100 each

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Represje hitlerowskie wobec wsi Bialostockiej, Marcin Markiewicz, Polish IPN bulletin nr.35-36 (Polish)
  2. ^ Witold Kulesza, Vice-president of GKBZPNP – IPN: "ZBRODNIE WEHRMACHTU W POLSCE – WRZESIEŃ 1939"
  3. ^ In his article for "Komentarze Historyczne" by the Institute of National Remembrance Marcin Markiewicz wrote that in September 1939 alone, with no connection with military manoeuvres, Wehrmacht razed to the ground 30 villages in Bielsko, Masovian, Suwalki and Lomza Voivodeships. 19 villages were burned and destroyed in Bialystok Voivodeship. The most brutal were the pacifications and killings in the villages of Wyliny Rus, Drogoszewo, Rutki and Pietraszki, where the Germans were shooting children and the elderly.Marcin Markiewicz, REPRESJE HITLEROWSKIE WOBEC WSI BIAŁOSTOCKIEJ, chapter Polski wrzesień 1939
  4. ^ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
  5. ^ (Polish) Michnów at Muzeum Wsi Kieleckiej

External links[edit]